Independent Living Fund to be re-examined by ministers

Disabled woman in office The closure ruling was successfully challenged this week in the appeal court

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The government will not be seeking leave to appeal after its decision to abolish the Independent Living Fund (ILF) was overturned in a court ruling.

The £320m ILF currently provides support enabling nearly 19,000 severely disabled people in the UK to live independent lives in the community.

The High Court ruled in April that the closure decision was lawful, but this was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The ILF will continue for now with ministers set to reconsider its future.

The fund provides a ring-fenced budget for the independent living needs of severely disabled people.

'Fight back'

Last year the government decided to close it and devolve the funding to local authorities.

That meant the money would no longer be ring-fenced, would be subject to normal budget cuts, and many disabled people feared that they would lose it.

On Wednesday, the Court of Appeal quashed that decision, because it found that the government had not given proper consideration to issues raised by the Equality Act, which included the need to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people, and to encourage them to take part in a public life.

The government said it would not appeal, but, in light of guidance provided by the Court of Appeal, ministers would be invited to make a new decision on its future based on further advice.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said the announcement meant that, for the time being, the fund remains intact and in business.

Campaigners are now urging the government to secure the fund's long-term future, he added.

A statement from anti-austerity group Disabled People Against Cuts, whose members took the case to court, said: "We all owe a great debt of gratitude to the five ILF users that took this to the courts and the solicitors and barristers who worked tirelessly.

"It has proved that disabled people can and will fight back. It has proved that disabled people can win."

The Department for Work and Pensions said: "This government is absolutely committed to supporting disabled people and we continue to spend around £50bn a year on disabled people and their services."

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